Construction of York Twp. facility dependent on zoning change

By David J. Coehrs -

Construction of a manufacturing business in York Township that would bring 20 jobs and tax revenue to the area hinges on a decision by the Fulton County Commissioners whether to change zoning at the prospective site.

A second public hearing was held during the commissioners’ regular session July 25 on whether to rezone the desired County Road H location from agricultural to M3 –manufacturing – for the project. Origo, a Minnesota-based company seeking to locate there, produces nutritional supplements for dairy animals, poultry, and swine.

It’s interested in York Township property adjacent to the Illinois-Ohio Railroad tracks on the road’s south side, behind Fulton County Processing, said Matt Gilroy, executive director of the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation (FCEDC). The 50-year-old family-owned company from New Ulm, Minn., wants to locate in the county because it’s central to the industry in this region of the Midwest.

“It’s just an opportunity for them to grow in a market…on the other side of the Midwest,” Gilroy said.

He said the specific site was chosen for its access to the railroad, the county’s major highways, and the Ohio Turnpike. Company and county officials spent four months reviewing seven or eight potential sites before deciding on the County Road H location.

“It’s been a very competitive project for us. It came down to access to the supply chain and the market,” Gilroy said.

The approximately $6.5 million manufacturing facility and warehouse would cover 25,000-30,000 square feet and employ 20 people. It would also serve as the base for Origo CEO Michael Hibbert.

The company uses a process called prilling to manipulate animal fat and vegetable oils into granular nutritional supplements for livestock that are blended with their feed. The company distributes its product to feed mills and livestock farms.

Gilroy attended the commissioners’ public hearing, and said the two major concerns addressed were manufacturing emissions and traffic noise. He said Origo uses a closed system that doesn’t send out emissions or use smoke stacks. He said traffic would be limited to employees’ vehicles and five to 10 trucks regularly entering and exiting the property.

Commissioner Bill Rufenacht said the majority of concerns about the new business are from residents in close proximity to the proposed site. “We all don’t want congestion around us. That’s to be understood,” he said.

He declined further comment. The county commissioners have 20 days from the hearing date to approve or reject the zoning request.

Origo has applied for federal grants to help finance the facility’s infrastructure. It also has applied for the county’s Community Reinvestment Area Property Tax Incentive, which would save the company 50 percent in property taxes for 15 years. The incentive is offered through Pike-Delta-York Schools, which approved it this summer, and through the York Township trustees, who voted it down.

York Township Trustee Thomas Tedrow said the township over-extends for prospective new businesses.

“We bend over backward too much for these companies. Anybody that wants to come into this county can pay taxes like everyone else,” he said.

The township still smarts from the snub it received during negotiations to establish NatureFresh Farms in the county, Tedrow said. He said York Township trustees were not contacted by the FCEDC to participate.

“This economic group they got, they just ignore the townships. They think they can do whatever they want,” he said.

The county commissioners make the final decision on whether to offer the tax incentive.

Origo would generate about $25,000 annually in tax revenue for the county, York Township, and Delta schools. County farmers would also benefit by getting the company’s products cheaper due to the facility’s proximity.

If zoning is approved, site work would begin sometime in August or September. Construction would possibly not begin until next spring.

Hippert did not return calls requesting comment.

Gilroy said Origio is primed to do business in Fulton County. “They’re getting ready to start if the county would like for them to be located here,” he said.

By David J. Coehrs

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.